26 civil lawsuits against Eau Claire doctor for sex assault
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — An Eau Claire pediatrician who's accused of inappropriately touching male patients has been named as a defendant in 14 new civil lawsuits, bringing to 26 the number of lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault.
David Van de Loo, 61, already faces 17 criminal charges related to child sexual assault. The civil lawsuits, including the 14 filed on Monday, include allegations of medical malpractice.
The patients allege that Van de Loo touched their genitals when they sought treatment for unrelated ailments, such as stomach, breathing, knee and back issues.
Brent Simerson, an attorney who has represented Van de Loo in other civil cases, said he doesn't comment on ongoing cases.
One of Van de Loo's two criminal defense attorneys, Rich White, defended Van de Loo's behavior as "appropriate and consistent with accepted medical standards." He said he couldn't elaborate, citing the jury trial scheduled to begin next month in Douglas County.
Van de Loo used to practice pediatrics and sports medicine for Mayo Clinic Health System. Mayo fired him in September 2012, two weeks after it said it was made aware of the allegations.
The criminal charges allege inappropriate contact with 16 male patients, although 26 former patients have filed civil lawsuits. Mike Finnegan, who represents 14 plaintiffs, said the numbers suggest the problem may be more widespread than prosecutors initially realized.
The plaintiffs include a male who said he was 17 when his mother brought him to Van de Loo's office for a routine exam for anxiety medication. He said the doctor asked his mother to leave the room and then performed a genital exam that the boy's mother later complained to Mayo was "a highly inappropriate or not very nice physical examination."
The woman said Van de Loo later called and told her he performed a sports physical and apologized for the mix-up.
Other plaintiffs include an adult who said he visited Van de Loo from the ages of 13 to 15. The man said Van de Loo administered genital exams that "lasted long enough to make him physically and mentally uncomfortable."